The Center for Ethnic Relations and Minority Protection (CERMP) is a form of a work organizing within the Forum for Ethnic Relations (FER) established in 1996 by the FER.
FER was founded in 1989 as a network of 110 social scientists-experts in the field of nations, nationalism, ethnic relations and minority protection. It carried out a series of projects dealing with ethnic and national issues. Since its foundation through out the period of war in the former Yugoslavia, regular contacts and links have been maintained between the members of the FER.
In the spring of 1998 in Pecs, Hungary, FER council voted for reorganization of FER into International Network on Ethnic Relations in South/Eastern Europe (INERSE), with the seat in Skopje, Macedonia. INERSE is composed of all the members-founders of FER plus organizations which were born during FER’s activity or in cooperation with it (e.g. Center for democracy and human rights or Center for Dialogue and Tolerance (CDT) in Podgorica, Montenegro; CERMP; International Network Europe and the Balkans (INEB) in Bologna, Italy; Project for Ethnic Relations and its offices in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, etc.). Needless to say, INERSE is open to new members.
It was agreed that the Center continues its activity under the registration of FER because of the restrictive legal system in Serbia-Yugoslavia, and under the full name of “Forum on Ethinc Relations – Center for Ethinc Relations and Minority Protection”. The CERMP activity will be mainly developed on the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but it will operate abroad through INERSE or in other ways.
CERMP gathers experts from the FRY (Serbia and Montenegro), Europe and USA and focuses its work on nation-state building processes, (ethno)nationalism, minorities (national, ethnic, religious, cultural and social) and minority protection as well.
The activities of the CERMP are carried out through research, educational-training and publishing projects as main forms of its work. Its aim consists in contributing to the democratization of ethnic relations and minority policies, in the development of reciprocal understanding as well as in the increase of tolerance, reconciliation of ethnic, religious and cultural groups.
CERMP supports (by giving advice, helping with project and program making, training of the activists etc.) the establishment of new NGOs which work on the improvement of the minority protection of the human freedoms and rights (e.g. in the following period CERMP will be active in establishing and developing the Center for Dialogue and Tolerance (CDT) in Podgorica).
CERMP organizes experts work, training programs and similar projects in cooperation with the governments that tend to democratize post-communist societies. This cooperation with democratically oriented government (e.g. Montenegro and Macedonia) involves a support for establishing institution for peaceful and democratic solution of ethnic conflicts, human rights protection and minority protection.
CERMP has developed permanent contacts and realized some of its projects in close cooperation with CERMP such as INEB, PER, Ethnic Studies Network, Open Society Institute, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), etc.
The objectives of the CERMP are the following:
- Collection, processing, keeping and exchanging data and information (statistical, legal, scientific-research, theoretical and other) of importance for the study of phenomena of the nation-building processes, nationalism and minorities (ethno-national as well as religious, cultural or linked to flows of refugees) in the FRY and in Europe for the improvement of ethnic relations, prevention of ethnic conflicts, confidence building and conflict resolution.
- Scientific and theoretical studies and research about the problem of nation-state building processes, (ethno)nationalism, ethnic relations and conflicts, as well of the problems of minorities.
- Education of young scientific-researchers to develop their knowledge and capacities to deal with these problems and training for young social and political leaders in this field.
- Sensibilization of the general public toward minority problems through public discussions, round tables and publishing activities.
- Encouragement and maintenance of international scientific-research cooperation, exchange and establishment of contacts with similar institution.
- Development of expert services in order to provide assistance to institutions concerned with problems of ethnic relations and minority protection.
The basic activities of the CERMP are:
- Long term and short term research, education, training, and publishing projects.
- Organization of academic conferences, seminars, round tables, workshops, etc.
- Organization, in cooperation with prominent in- country and foreign institutions, of summer schools and trainings in the field of nation-state building, nationalism, status of minorities and minorities protection.
- Organization of fact-finding and monitoring groups and missions.
- Provisions of expert services to institutions such as: State and its bodies (from local community to the national and federal level), research and educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and foundations, mass-media, political parties, banks, enterprises and other economic entities, international organizations, etc.
- International cooperation and establishment of links with appropriate associations and institutions concerned with issues within the sphere of ethnic relations and conflicts, minority protection, etc.
- Publishing activities related to the work of the CERMP (bulletins, books, monographs and collections of papers, video-tapes and alike).
Workshop would be a frame for the realization and coordination of cooperation among relevant intellectuals, scholars, NGOs, politician, businessmen and other leaders who support and promote ideas of human and minority rights respect, concepts of democracy, reforms, cooperation and tolerance.
The Workshop founders would be CERMP and similar Italian organizations and institutions.
The Workshop is led by the Board which is composed of:
Italian members: Giuliana Campani, Stefano Bianchini, Luigi Ferraris, Alberto Abbate, Centro per I conflitti etnici (Universita di Milano), LIMES
Yugoslav members: Nada Raduški, Dušan Janjic, Konstantin Obradovic, Batroslav Vekovic, Vladimir Goati, Ranko Vukovic, Nebojša Vucinic, Miodrag Vukovic
Executive secretaries:, Francesca Vanoni
- To give the impulse to an effective exchange of ideas among scholars, journalists, political leaders and especially young members of both Yugoslav and Italian communities.
- To improve the general knowledge about present Yugoslav-Italian relations and possibilities of their development.
- To create a background for the development of a widespread culture of dialogue.
- To enable young people (with special regard to those involved in NGOs, political parties and local communities activities) to learn more about legislation, international standards of minority rights protection and about the status of ethnic and social minorities in the two countries.
- To encourage the development of a culture of dialogue, tolerance and cooperation by training people to negotiate with official bodies, especially in situations of social conflicts and ethnic tensions.
- To form a network of seminars participant, enabling them to work together in the future to protect the rights of all minorities.
This project as been thought as a series of dichotomies which reflects the different experiences of Italy and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in dealing with (ethno)national issues and minorities problems:
- Regionalism Federalism.
- Integration Homogenization.
- European identity vs. National identity.
These concepts are proposed as alternative models of facing minorities and immigration issues, paying particular attention to the growing problem of refugee flows from crises and economically underdeveloped areas to the Western European Countries.
The activity of the workshop has the aim to apprehend those topics by explaining the importance of respecting human rights and minorities freedoms in multiethnic societies as well as of preventing any kind of political violence.
The project makes provision for the organization of lectures, conferences, round tables, held in several cities of both countries, with the involvement of distinguished scholars and experts in different fields connected with the above mentioned topics.
It also provides the opportunity for young experts to take part in exchange programs, giving them the chance to better understand local societies and their specific problems.
Finally, it will enable the publication and promotion of literature and documents which promote tolerance, the development of civil society and a democratic political culture; after the conclusion of the workshop the main report, extended by additional discussion materials and papers will be published as a book.